AS THE unrest, and consequent curfew, goes on in the aftermath of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s death, thousands of tourists have left Kashmir over the last few days, and there appears little chance of business reviving in the immediate future.
“Barely 1,000 tourists are coming to Kashmir (now). Till last week, the number was 10,000 every day,” Deputy Director (Tourism) Peerzada Zahoor said. “All bookings for this month are cancelled.”
Another tourism department official said more than 90 per cent tourists have left the Valley. “The department has deployed officials at Srinagar airport so that tourists do not face any problem,” the official said.
“We don’t want to talk about it (tourism) now,” Rauf Tramboo, president of Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir, said, adding that their priority is that the killings should stop “immediately”. Showkat Ahmad, who runs a hotel near Srinagar’s Dal Lake, said, “We don’t have any tourist in our hotel now. We had advance bookings till September, but every day we are receiving calls for cancellation.”
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At Dal Lake, the houseboats are empty and shikaras are parked near the banks. “I am disappointed, but I want the issue to get resolved (first),” shikara owner Ghulam Nabi said.
With the Srinagar-Jammu national highway continuing to remain closed during the day in view of the protests and curfew, the Srinagar International Airport is faced with a huge rush. Most tourists arrive there early morning to avoid the protesters during the day.
“Our plan was to return next week, but we were forced to leave early due to the situation,” Amit Kumar, an IT professional from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, said at the airport.